New Hampshire primary: Don Bolduc’s top Republican challenger has raised nearly three times as much. Bolduc could win anyway.

Five major Republican challengers in New Hampshire will face each other Tuesday as they look to challenge Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan in November’s general election. It is the one that has grown relatively little that can come out on top.

Recent polls show that the primary, the last of the term, has effectively boiled down to two candidates: retired Army Brig. Gen. Don Bolduc and State Senate President Chuck Morse. Bolduc leads Morse by more than 18 points in the latest Real Clear Politics average of polls.

The candidates include investor Bruce Fenton, who has personally funded the campaign with $1.8 million. Economist and author Vikram Mansharamani, self-employed $280,000; and former Londonderry City Manager Kevin Smith.

Bolduc has a solid lead in the polls, but is at a huge disadvantage in fundraising compared to Morse. Since the beginning of the year, Morse has raised about $1.6 million — nearly triple what Bolduc has raised (about $580,000). In the year As of August 24, Bolduc only has $84,000 cash on hand, while Morse has about $500,000 more. More than 40% of Bolduc’s money comes from small individual contributions of less than $200 – compared to 3% for Morse.

Bolduc – Former President Donald Trump He made baseless claims that he won a recent debate in 2020 — positioning himself as a political outsider to tackle inflation, bring manufacturing jobs to America and roll back Trump’s border policies.

Read more: Complete MarketWatch inflation coverage.

The Cook Political Report rates Hassen’s seat as “weakly” Democratic, and Republicans believe it could be flipped in November. But some Republicans — including the state’s GOP governor — have expressed concern that Bolduc is not well positioned to defeat Hassan.

“He is not a serious candidate. It certainly isn’t, New Hampshire Republican Gov. Chris Sununu said in August. “Had he been the candidate, I have no doubt that it would have been more difficult for us to try to win back that seat. So I don’t take it seriously as a candidate. I don’t think a lot of people do.”

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Sununu on Friday endorsed Morse as a “principled conservative” and “the only Republican Senate candidate who can beat Maggie Hassan in November.” Morse’s campaign received contributions from the governor’s brother, former Senator John E. Sununu, and former U.S. Representative Charles Douglas III.

Despite his criticism of Bolduc, the New Hampshire governor is ready to back Morse if he loses. “Look, they’re primaries,” Sununu told The Washington Post. “Go back to 2016 and all the talk about Donald Trump. At the end of the day, it’s about what’s best for the country.

Bolduc adviser Rick Wiley told CNN that people who say Bolduc can’t beat Hassan in the general election “don’t know what they’re talking about.” “The punditry that comes out of the swamp, he’s … his ability to connect with voters is something I haven’t seen in a long time.”

It is not Bolduc’s first primary trip – in 2011 In 2020, Bolduc made an unsuccessful Senate bid to replace Democratic Sen. Jane Shaheen, but was defeated in the primary. This year, however, he has a better shot at securing the GOP nomination.

“He didn’t do that badly two years ago,” said Dante Scala, a political science professor at the University of New Hampshire. Bolduc’s colleague won the primary with 42.5% of the vote. “It was a two-man race, but you know, that’s a significant turnout. So in that sense he had a head start among New Hampshire voters and didn’t stop campaigning for a long time.

And Bolduc has previously shown an advantage in the polls: a week before the 2020 election, a University of New Hampshire poll showed Bolduc with 31% support — less than 10 points he received.

“Even though he didn’t have the money, I think he followed a populist strategy, you know, typically, we say, New Hampshire voters responding to populist politics,” Scala said. “And if he wins, it could be the last example of that,” he said.

While Morse’s cash on hand allows him to make several TV ad buys, he’s not the only one buying ads.

White Mountain PAC, a newly created super PAC led by former National Republican Senatorial Committee treasurer Les Williamson, made a multimillion-dollar effort to boost Morse weeks before the primary race. According to FEC filings, the PAC spent $4.6 million on advertising to help Morse.

The Democratic-aligned Senate Majority PAC, meanwhile, bought $3.2 million in ad time, backed by the “Mitch McConnell Washington establishment,” calling Morse “another crooked politician.” The ad does not mention Bolduc.

Morse Communications Director Maya Harvey told POLITICO about the ad: “Maggie Hassan and her dark money allies are confirming what they already know: Chuck Morse is getting on the ballot, and he’s the best-placed candidate to beat her this November.”

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